Christie’s is still cataloguing the Mayer collection and there are likely to be a number of interesting works among the lots, including an early Larry Rivers painting The Last Civil War Veteran, 1959-1960 ($300-500k), but along side the Rauschenberg announced this morning is Kiss III, a Roy Lichtenstein painting from 1962 that carries a $30m estimate.
In 1990, a companion painting to this work, Kiss II (1962), set a record for the artist when it sold for $6m at Christie’s to a representative of Fuji Gallery in Japan who was said to be buying the work for Mr. Wanibuchi. At the time, the $6m was a record price for the artist. Here’s Christie’s on the painting:
Painted by one of the foremost figures of American Pop Art, Kiss III, 1962 (in the region of $30 million) is a pivotal work from one of Roy Lichtenstein’s most lauded bodies of work. Painted the same year as the artist’s inaugural solo exhibition at the legendary Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, works such as this began pulling from the pages of comic books and enlarging the sampled imagery with meticulous detail. While effectively reproducing extant imagery, Lichtenstein was clear that his works should be viewed for their formal qualities rather than their enticing subject matter. Clearly depicted with bold black outlines, on the surface Kiss III depicts a man and woman sharing a close embrace. Both figures have their eyes closed as the man’s large hand presses down on the woman’s shoulder. Their lips are planted in a passionate kiss that is echoed in the energetic shapes making up the explosive background. In 1961, Lichtenstein broke with his earlier practice and began to reproduce the visual qualities of printed ephemera. Among his subjects were works based on advertisements and comics that featured war stories and romantic themes
(of which Kiss III is a prime example). “At that time,” Lichtenstein later recounted, “I was interested in anything I could use as a subject that was emotionally strong – usually love, war, or something that was highly charged and emotional subject matter to be opposite to the removed and deliberate painting techniques.